If you have arthritis, you know what to expect every day when you get up in the morning: pain. You experience the same thing when trying to find a comfortable way to sit, grocery shopping where it’s one painful step in front of the other, difficulty buttoning your shirt. But wouldn’t it be nice to be able to do these very basic things that other people take for granted without pain? Now just imagine doing them with increased flexibility.
Eating certain foods reduces inflammation and pain. But first, here are three things you should avoid, since these harm your joints and cartilage (and your brain, too!)
Artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners
GMO foods; they are so “hardy” they pierce the gut, leaching toxins into your body and poisoning your bloodstream.
Pesticides (stick to organics, especially if you have a PON1 gene SNP)
Now for the fun part: let’s look at the 6 of the best foods to include in your diet if you have arthritis pain:
1. Organic ginger
Ginger is highly anti-inflammatory. Researchers found that ginger relieves pain in patients with osteoarthritis, helping an amazing 63 percent of participants! Another study found that ginger can block the manufacture of inflammatory cytokines in the body. Brew some delicious ginger tea, grate fresh ginger into your stir-fries or soups, or sprinkle ground ginger into baked goods and pancakes.
2. Tart cherries
Like blueberries, cherries are rich in a compound called anthocyanin, which gives cherries their deep blue-red hue. A 2013 study found that patients who drink tart cherry juice found they improved levels of pain and stiffness from arthritis. It’s known to help with gouty arthritis too. Bottled tart cherry juice and frozen whole tart cherries are available year-round at your local grocery store. Throw a handful in your morning smoothie. Or, if you are hosting a dinner party, use anthocyanin as a great excuse to whip up a pie or cherry crisp!
Garlic is good for so many health-promoting effects in the body. It’s a cancer preventative and a potent anti-inflammatory food. In one study of 1,082 twins, researchers found that those who ate the most garlic experienced the least symptoms from osteoarthritis.
Subtle licorice-flavored fennel (also known as anise) has long been used as medicine in ancient Rome and Greece. Fennel is a delicious addition to spice up a salad, also helping to drastically reduce inflammation in the joints and tissues. Fennel can be eaten raw or cooked – I absolutely love it roasted! Check out my recipe for garlic-roasted fennel here.
5. Beet Greens
Dark, leafy greens like beet greens are full of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals that reduce inflammation all over the body. Beet greens (not beets) are extremely high in vitamin K, another potent anti-inflammatory. Two cups of these contain about 4,700 mg of potassium which can help regulate blood pressure. Sauté them with garlic in some grass-fed butter. They wilt within a minute.
A 2017 study showed how kaempferol (found in spinach) reduces inflammation and prevents the progression of osteoarthritis, the “wear-and-tear” type of arthritis. Kaempferol also decreases the effects of inflammatory cytokines associated with rheumatoid arthritis, the autoimmune form that affects bone marrow. You may wish to try my delicious recipe for Asian sauteed spinach that also incorporates ginger and garlic – enjoy!
If you want to be more flexible and be able to get moving in 2018, think clean, green, organic, non-nitrate, natural foods as often as you can. It may sound difficult, but if you set your mind to it, you’ll notice changes within a month.
Suzy Cohen known as America’s Pharmacist®has been a pharmacist for 28 years and a Functional Medicine practitioner for 20 years.